Monday, November 26, 2018

Netflix's New Series Based on Robyn Carr's Virgin River Books + Giveaway (cont. US only)

Virgin River (Virgin River #1)
Robyn Carr
from MIRA // Harlequin

WANTED: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against a backdrop of towering California redwoods and crystal-clear rivers. Rent-free cabin included.

When the recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees this ad she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache, and to re-energize the nursing career she loves. But her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving: the cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realizing she’s made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning.

But a tiny baby, abandoned on a front porch, changes her plans... and a former marine cements them into place.

Melinda Monroe may have come to Virgin River looking for escape, but instead she finds her home.


In celebration of this exciting announcement, Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Virgin River, the first book in the series—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
Which books have you read from the Virgin River series? If you haven't read any, will you still be tuning into the Netflix show?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Robyn and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends December 10th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to continental US readers only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open internationally. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: The Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Spite Game
Anna Snoekstra
from MIRA // Harlequin

Everyone does bad things when no one is watching

Mercilessly bullied in high school, Ava knows she needs to put the past behind her and move on, but she can’t—not until she’s exacted precise, catastrophic revenge on the people who hurt her the most.

First, she watches Saanvi. Flawlessly chic and working hard at a top architectural firm, Saanvi has it all together on the surface. But everyone does bad things when they think no one is watching and Ava only wants what’s fair—to destroy Saanvi’s life the way her own was destroyed.

Next, she watches Cass. She’s there as Cass tries on wedding dresses, she’s there when Cass picks out a cake, she’s there when Cass betrays her fiancé. She’s the reason Cass’s entire future comes crashing down.

Finally, Ava watches Mel. Mel was always the ringleader and if anyone has to pay, it’s her. But one tiny slipup and Ava realizes the truth: Mel knows she’s being watched, and she’s ready to play Ava’s games to the bitter end.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: I Invited Her In by Adele Parks + Giveaway (US only)

I Invited Her In
Adele Parks
from MIRA // Harlequin

Imagine the worst thing a friend could ever do.

This is worse.

When Mel receives an unexpected email from her oldest friend Abi, it brings back memories she thought she had buried forever. Their friendship belonged in the past. To those carefree days at university.

But Abi is in trouble and needs Mel’s help, and she wants a place to stay. Just for a few days, while she sorts things out. It’s the least Mel can do.

After all, friends look out for each other, don’t they?

I Invited Her In is a blistering tale of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: The Secret Language of Cats by Susanne Schötz + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Secret Language of Cats
Susanne Schötz
from Hanover Square // Harlequin

Have you ever wondered what your cat is saying?

Cats do not meow randomly, nor do they growl or hiss because they have nothing better to do. Cat sounds have a purpose, and they can carry important messages, whether for us or other cats.

Susanne Schötz is hard at work on breaking the cat code. She is a professor at Lund University in Sweden, where a long-standing research program is proving that cats do actually use vocal communication—with each other and with their human caretakers. Understanding the vocal strategies used in human-cat communication will have profound implications for how we communicate with our pets, and has the potential to improve the relationship between animals and humans within several fields, including animal therapy, veterinary medicine and animal sheltering.

In The Secret Language of Cats, Schötz offers a crash course in the phonetic study of cat sounds. She introduces us to the full range of feline vocalizations and explains what they can mean in different situations, and she gives practical tips to help us understand our cats better.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Interview with JoAnn Ross, Author of Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane + Giveaway (cont. US only)

Today I'd like to welcome JoAnn Ross to the blog to celebrate the exciting release of Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane, the latest installment in the Honeymoon Harbor series from HQN Books, a Harlequin imprint!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, JoAnn! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

When New York Times bestselling author JoAnn Ross was seven-years-old, she had no doubt whatsoever that she’d grow up to play center field for the New York Yankees. Writing would be her backup occupation, something she planned to do after retiring from baseball. Those were, in her mind, her only options. While waiting for the Yankees management to call, she wrote her first novella—a tragic romance about two star-crossed mallard ducks—for a second grade writing assignment.

The paper earned a gold star. And JoAnn kept writing.

She’s now written over one hundred novels and has been published in twenty-six countries. Two of her titles have been excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine and her books have also been published by the Doubleday, Rhapsody, Literary Guild, and Mystery Guild book clubs. A member of the Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll of best-selling authors, she’s won several awards, including RT Reviews’ Career Achievement Awards in both category romance and contemporary single title. In addition, she received RWA’s national service award and was named RWA Pro-Mentor of the Year.

Although the Yankees have yet to call her to New York to platoon center field, JoAnn figures making one out of two life goals isn’t bad.

Currently writing her Honeymoon Harbor series (set on Washington State’s Olympic peninsula) for HQN, JoAnn lives with her high school sweetheart, whom she married twice, in her beloved Pacific Northwest.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which just hit shelves last week:

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Wells is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor.

Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.

Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.

Despite the secret they left between them all those years ago, snow is starting to fall on their picturesque little town, making anything seem possible... maybe even a second chance at first love.

The hero of this novel is Aiden Mannion, an LAPD officer who’s returned to his hometown of Honeymoon Harbor, Washington, after losing his partner in the line of duty. Can you tell us a bit about Aiden and where the inspiration for his character came from?

Redemption stories are one of my favorite themes, and I enjoy the dichotomy of a bad boy character who’d landed in trouble when he was younger, ending up on the other side of the badge. Aiden was always a good guy at heart, and it’s possible that if he’d been born first of the brothers, he might have been the Boy Scout overachiever. But since Quinn had already claimed that role, Aiden chose to be the exact opposite. For all his youthful digressions, he’s a caretaker, a fixer of the broken: animals, people, kids in jeopardy, which made his transition from the military to law enforcement a natural choice. So, since Honeymoon Harbor needed a police chief, he was the perfect guy for the job.

When Aiden returns to Honeymoon Harbor, he soon crosses paths with his old flame, Jolene Wells, who has had a successful career as a Hollywood makeup artist in the years since they both went their separate ways. Jolene is such a wonderful female character with such an interesting backstory—how did you go about writing and shaping her character?

I once spent a week on a jury. The defendant was a career thief. He didn’t seem to be a very bad guy, but for some reason, he’d chosen burglary as his day job. As it turned out, he wasn’t very smart or good at it, because the last day of the trial, the prosecutor showed a slide revealing years of arrests for petty crimes. Never any against people. Then a police officer testified how, when the defendant had been captured after a car chase through three counties, he’d explained that he’d only had to steal that car because he’d hurt his leg running from the initial cops who were after him, and couldn’t keep running with a twisted knee while carrying a TV. He’s stayed with me for years, and when I knew Jolene would be a subject of bullying, I needed to give her a less-than-model family. And there he was again.

I also grew up in a small Pacific Northwest town not much larger than Honeymoon Harbor and know firsthand that there aren’t any secrets. Once my high school boyfriend, now husband, was driving from my house to his, which took about twenty minutes. By the time he got home, three people had called his mom to tell her he’d been speeding. High school can be a gauntlet for many people, so I could imagine how difficult it would have been for Jolene, with all the gossip about her family, and having to wear clothing the mean girls couldn’t resist pointing out had been theirs, donated by their mothers to the thrift shop. Which is how she’d come to take on her vintage style that serendipitously started her on a road to Hollywood success.

I knew she’d have to be a very strong person. I also wanted her to have a close, almost sisterly relationship with her mother who’d gotten pregnant in her teens. I’ll willingly admit that Gloria and Jolene’s relationship is a great deal like Lorelai and Rory’s from Gilmore Girls, which has always been one of my comfort TV shows to watch. And re-watch. Part of Jolene’s strength comes watching Gloria overcoming so many obstacles and managing to support their small family during some very hard times. When it came time for Jolene to support Gloria, she was right there, as her mom had always been for her. Both women managed to overcome hardships and create successful lives on their own terms, making it a joy to write their scenes together.

I have to ask, what’s next for you? Are you working on more Honeymoon Harbor novels? If so, can you give us some hints about what readers can look forward to next?

Yes! Thank you for asking! I’m writing Summer on Mirror Lake, which will be out next summer. This is Aiden Mannion and Chelsea Prescott’s story. Aiden has been working on Wall Street, making millions, when an sudden life event sends him back home to Honeymoon Harbor, where, despite his efforts to hide out as a hermit on Mirror Lake outside town before returning to Manhattan at summer’s end, Chelsea, the town’s unrelentingly optimistic, enthusiastic librarian, keeps dragging him into community projects. These two opposites are great fun together.

There’s also a very special secondary character that I’ve been wanting to write for years, and this book finally proved to be a perfect fit for Jim Olson. And yes, that’s what he named himself. ☺

How exciting! Where can you be found on the web?

It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, JoAnn! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
Have you ever been close with anyone who has or had cancer?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. JoAnn and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Both my great-grandmothers on my mom's side passed away from cancer. I only knew one of them well.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends November 19th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to continental US residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Thread Herrings by Lea Wait + Giveaway (US/Can)

Thread Herrings (Mainely Needlepoint #7)
Lea Wait
from Kensington Books

Angie's first auction may turn out to be her last—when she bids on a coat of arms that someone would literally kill to possess.

Tagging along to an estate sale with her fellow Needlepointer, antiques shop owner Sarah Byrne, Angie Curtis impulsively bids on a tattered embroidery of a coat of arms. When she gets her prize back home to Haven Harbor, she discovers a document from 1757 behind the framed needlework—a claim for a child from a foundling hospital. Intrigued, Angie is determined to find the common thread between the child and the coat of arms.

Accepting her reporter friend Clem Walker's invitation to talk about her find on the local TV news, Angie makes an appeal to anyone who might have information. Instead, both women receive death threats. When Clem is found shot to death in a parking lot, Angie fears her own life may be in jeopardy. She has to unravel this historical mystery—or she may be the next one going, going... gone...

Friday, November 2, 2018

Shell by Kristina Olsson Giveaway (US/Can)

Kristina Olsson
Atria Books // Simon & Schuster

In this spellbinding and poignant historical novel—perfect for fans of All the Light We Cannot See and The Flamethrowers—a Swedish glassmaker and a fiercely independent Australian journalist are thrown together amidst the turmoil of the 1960s and the dawning of a new modern era.

1965: As the United States becomes further embroiled in the Vietnam War, the ripple effects are far-reaching—even to the other side of the world. In Australia, a national military draft has been announced and Pearl Keogh, a headstrong and ambitious newspaper reporter, has put her job in jeopardy to become involved in the anti-war movement. Desperate to locate her two runaway brothers before they’re called to serve, Pearl is also hiding a secret shame—the guilt she feels for not doing more for her younger siblings after their mother’s untimely death.

Newly arrived from Sweden, Axel Lindquist is set to work as a sculptor on the besieged Sydney Opera House. After a childhood in Europe, where the shadow of WWII loomed large, he seeks to reinvent himself in this utterly foreign landscape, and finds artistic inspiration—and salvation—in the monument to modernity that is being constructed on Sydney’s Harbor. But as the nation hurtles towards yet another war, Jørn Utzon, the Opera House’s controversial architect, is nowhere to be found—and Axel fears that the past he has tried to outrun may be catching up with him.

As the seas of change swirl around them, Pearl and Axel’s lives orbit each other and collide in this sweeping novel of art and culture, love and destiny.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Exclusive Recipe from Final Roasting Place by Devon Delaney + Giveaway (US/Can)

Final Roasting Place (A Cook-Off Mystery #2)
Devon Delaney
from Kensington Books

Sherry Frazzelle is back to being Sherry Oliveri, her divorce all but final and her new life in full swing. Her part-time job is helping her father with his hooked-rug business, and her full-time passion is competitive cooking. But murder is about to rock their little Connecticut town...

Erno Oliveri made sure to be on set for his daughter’s cook-off appearance on Sunny Side Up with Brett and Carmell. Or as it’s now known, Sunny Side Up with Carmell and Brett—since the ambitious young Carmell seems to have the producer and station owner eating out of her hand. But the important news is that Sherry has bested the competition with her Spicy Toasted Chickpea and Almond appetizer and clinched the spatula-shaped trophy. It’s her shining moment—until everything goes dark.

A quick-moving storm has knocked out power to the studio—and when the lights come back up, Carmell is at her desk with a sharp object lodged in her neck. The weapon is an unusual tool, used by craftsmen who make hooked rugs. Has someone taken corporate backstabbing to a new level, and framed Erno in the process? If Sherry’s going to protect her dad and their family name, she has to find out where he was when the lights went out.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Feral Attraction by Eileen Watkins + Giveaway (US/Can)

Feral Attraction (A Cat Groomer Mystery #3)
Eileen Watkins
from Kensington Books

Cat groomer Cassie McGlone tails a killer gone wild over feral felines...

Cassie's good friend Dawn is part of an organization that's trying to protect a colony of stray cats on the property of a condo community in Chadwick, New Jersey. The residents have got their backs up over the cat invasion, and Dawn has come to Cassie's grooming and boarding shop, Cassie's Comfy Cats, to ask her help in talking sense to them.

Not everyone's against the cats. Eccentric Sabrina Ward feeds them and has even created makeshift shelters for them in the nearby woods, infuriating her neighbors. Following a heated community meeting—in which Cassie and Dawn come up with a proposal—Sabrina's body is found in the woods. The police are calling her death an accident, but Cassie smells a rat. Narrowing down the list of suspects may be tougher than herding cats, but Cassie is determined to collar the killer before another cat lover has a fatal accident.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Murder on Millionaires' Row by Erin Lindsey + Giveaway (US/Can)

Murder on Millionaires' Row
Erin Lindsey
from Minotaur Books // St. Martin's Press

In Murder on Millionaires' Row, Erin Lindsey's debut historical mystery, a daring housemaid searches Gilded Age Manhattan for her missing employer and finds a hidden world of magic, ghosts, romance, and Pinkerton detectives.

Rose Gallagher might dream of bigger things, but she’s content enough with her life as a housemaid. After all, it’s not every girl from Five Points who gets to spend her days in a posh Fifth Avenue brownstone, even if only to sweep its floors. But all that changes on the day her boss, Mr. Thomas Wiltshire, disappears. Rose is certain Mr. Wiltshire is in trouble, but the police treat his disappearance as nothing more than the whims of a rich young man behaving badly. Meanwhile, the friend who reported him missing is suspiciously unhelpful. With nowhere left to turn, Rose takes it upon herself to find her handsome young employer.

The investigation takes her from the marble palaces of Fifth Avenue to the sordid streets of Five Points. When a ghostly apparition accosts her on the street, Rose begins to realize that the world around her isn’t at all as it seems—and her place in it is about to change forever.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Go to My Grave by Catriona McPherson + Giveaway (US/Can)

Go to My Grave
Catriona McPherson
from Minotaur Books // St. Martin's Press

Donna Weaver has put everything she has into restoring The Breakers, can old bed and breakfast on a remote stretch of beach in Galloway. Now it sits waiting—freshly painted, richly furnished, filled with flowers—for the first guests to arrive.

But Donna's guests, a contentious group of estranged cousins, soon realize that they’ve been here before, years ago. Decades have passed, but that night still haunts them: a sixteenth birthday party that started with peach schnapps and ended with a girl walking into the sea.

Each of them had made a vow of silence: “lock it in a box, stitch my lips, and go to my grave.”

But now someone has broken the pact. Amid the home-baked scones and lavish rooms, someone is playing games, locking boxes, stitching lips. And before the weekend is over, at least one of them will go to their grave.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: The Collector's Apprentice by B.A. Shapiro + Giveaway (US only)

The Collector's Apprentice
B.A. Shapiro
from Algonquin Books // Workman Publishing

It’s the summer of 1922, and nineteen-year-old Paulien Mertens finds herself in Paris—broke, disowned, and completely alone. Everyone in Belgium, including her own family, believes she stole millions in a sophisticated con game perpetrated by her then-fiancé, George Everard. To protect herself from the law and the wrath of those who lost everything, she creates a new identity, a Frenchwoman named Vivienne Gregsby, and sets out to recover her father’s art collection, prove her innocence—and exact revenge on George.

When the eccentric and wealthy American art collector Edwin Bradley offers Vivienne the perfect job, she is soon caught up in the Parisian world of post-Impressionists and expatriates—including Gertrude Stein and Henri Matisse, with whom Vivienne becomes romantically entwined. As she travels between Paris and Philadelphia, where Bradley is building an art museum, her life becomes even more complicated: George returns with unclear motives... and then Vivienne is arrested for Bradley’s murder.

B. A. Shapiro has made the historical art thriller her own. In The Collector’s Apprentice, she gives us an unforgettable tale about the lengths to which people will go for their obsession, whether it be art, money, love, or vengeance.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Girl from Berlin by Ronald H. Balson Giveaway (US/Can)

The Girl from Berlin (Liam and Catherine #5)
Ronald H. Balson
from St. Martin's Press

In the newest novel from internationally-bestselling author Ronald. H. Balson, Liam and Catherine come to the aid of an old friend and are drawn into a property dispute in Tuscany that unearths long-buried secrets

An old friend calls Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart to his famous Italian restaurant to enlist their help. His aunt is being evicted from her home in the Tuscan hills by a powerful corporation claiming they own the deeds, even though she can produce her own set of deeds to her land. Catherine and Liam’s only clue is a bound handwritten manuscript, entirely in German, and hidden in its pages is a story long-forgotten...

Ada Baumgarten was born in Berlin in 1918, at the end of the war. The daughter of an accomplished first-chair violinist in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, and herself a violin prodigy, Ada’s life was full of the rich culture of Berlin’s interwar society. She formed a deep attachment to her childhood friend Kurt, but they were torn apart by the growing unrest as her Jewish family came under suspicion. As the tides of history turned, it was her extraordinary talent that would carry her through an unraveling society turned to war, and make her a target even as it saved her, allowing her to move to Bologna―though Italy was not the haven her family had hoped, and further heartache awaited.

What became of Ada? How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one print copy of The Girl from Berlin—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What is a mystery in your life that has never been solved?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Ronald and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

I lost my favorite scarf on a night out. I tried retracing my steps to track it down the next day, but never found it. I can't imagine it could have strayed far, considering I can pin down almost the exact time I must have lost it, so I have no idea why I wasn't able to locate it!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends November 5th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Top 5 Ways Fact Meets Fiction in The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos + Giveaway (US only)

The Girl They Left Behind
Roxanne Veletzos
from Atria Books // Simon & Schuster

A sweeping family saga and love story that offers a vivid and unique portrayal of life in war-torn 1941 Bucharest and life behind the Iron Curtain during the Soviet Union occupation—perfect for fans of Lilac Girls and Sarah’s Key.

On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest. With Romania recently allied with the Nazis, the Jewish population is in grave danger, undergoing increasingly violent persecution. The girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia. As she assimilates into her new life, she all but forgets the parents who were forced to leave her behind. They are even further from her mind when Romania falls under Soviet occupation.

Yet, as Natalia comes of age in a bleak and hopeless world, traces of her identity pierce the surface of her everyday life, leading gradually to a discovery that will change her destiny. She has a secret crush on Victor, an intense young man who as an impoverished student befriended her family long ago. Years later, when Natalia is in her early twenties and working at a warehouse packing fruit, she and Victor, now an important official in the Communist regime, cross paths again. This time they are fatefully drawn into a passionate affair despite the obstacles swirling around them and Victor’s dark secrets.

When Natalia is suddenly offered a one-time chance at freedom, Victor is determined to help her escape, even if it means losing her. Natalia must make an agonizing decision: remain in Bucharest with her beloved adoptive parents and the man she has come to love, or seize the chance to finally live life on her own terms, and to confront the painful enigma of her past.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Love in Catalina Cove by Brenda Jackson + Giveaway (US only)

Love in Catalina Cove (Catalina Cove #1)
Brenda Jackson
from HQN // Harlequin

In her brand-new series, Brenda Jackson welcomes you to Catalina Cove, where even the biggest heartbreaks can be healed...

In the wake of a devastating teen pregnancy that left her childless and heartbroken, Vashti Alcindor left Catalina Cove, Louisiana, with no plans to return. Now, over a decade later, Vashti reluctantly finds herself back in her hometown after inheriting her aunt’s B and B. Her homecoming gets off to a rocky start when the new sheriff, Sawyer Grisham, pulls her over for speeding, and things go downhill from there.

The B and B, a place she’d always found refuge in when it seemed like the whole world was against her, has fallen into disrepair. When a surprising benefactor encourages Vashti to reopen the B and B, Vashti embraces a fresh start, and soon old hurts begin to fade as she makes new memories with the town—and its handsome sheriff...

But some pasts are too big to escape, and when a bombshell of a secret changes everything she thought was true, Vashti is left reeling. With Sawyer and his teenage daughter determined to see her through the storm, though, she’s learning family isn’t always a matter of blood—sometimes it’s a matter of heart.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Exclusive Interview with Peter Stone, Author of The Perfect Candidate + Giveaway (US only)

I'd like to welcome Peter Stone to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of his debut novel, The Perfect Candidate from Simon & Schuster!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Peter! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Peter Stone is a lifelong fan of thrillers on the big screen, small screen, and page. He started early, writing a 5th grade book report on John Grisham’s The Firm. But his work as an author was sparked in earnest many years later at his wedding, where a bestselling author guest approached him after hearing his vows and urged “You have a book in you.” (This made Stone think that there were probably some really good drinks being served at the bar.)

That book is Stone’s debut young adult novel, The Perfect Candidate, is published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. The story is inspired by his experience working in Washington, D.C. as a Spanish tutor for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and as an intern for Congressman Gary A. Condit just after he graduated from high school. Having majored in political science, Stone managed a Congressional primary campaign and is a Harry S. Truman Scholar. He is also a high school speech and debate national champion and maintains that speech and debate tournaments are the best thing any teenager could do with their Saturdays.

Stone has worked for ten years as a marketing executive for TV and film and is currently based in Tokyo, Japan, where he lives with his wife and two children. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University (BA, 2004) and Harvard Business School (MBA, 2008). He has lived in California, Utah, Boston, Israel, and El Salvador; and traveled to over sixty countries.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which hit shelves yesterday:

From debut author Peter Stone comes a heart-stopping, pulse-pounding political thriller that’s perfect for fans of Ally Carter and House of Cards.

When recent high school graduate Cameron Carter lands an internship with Congressman Billy Beck in Washington, DC, he thinks it is his ticket out of small town captivity. What he lacks in connections and Beltway polish he makes up in smarts, and he soon finds a friend and mentor in fellow staffer Ariel Lancaster.

That is, until she winds up dead.

As rumors and accusations about her death fly around Capitol Hill, Cameron’s low profile makes him the perfect candidate for an FBI investigation that he wants no part of. Before he knows it—and with his family’s future at stake—he discovers DC’s darkest secrets as he races to expose a deadly conspiracy.

If it doesn’t get him killed first.

As a huge fan of first lines, I’d love to hear the first line of The Perfect Candidate. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?

The first line of The Perfect Candidate finds protagonist Cameron Carter analyzing a summer intern portrait with his Congressman, with whom he’s just worked for the summer:

“You don’t notice it at first.”
Cameron is referring to a number of unnerving details in the image, which only become visible after some inspection. But the sentiment applies to his whole experience in Washington, D.C. Newcomers to the nation’s capital are rightfully awed by the power, the politician sightings, and the majesty of the monuments. What they don’t immediately see the are the hidden abuses; the corruption veiled by soundbites and smiles; and the dirt and grime coating the white stone of the notable memorials in the city. Throughout the story, Cameron will encounter all of these and worse—usually when he (and the reader) least expect it. (Bonus: the intern photo is the inspiration for the killer cover artwork!)

Tell us about your road to publication, such as how you first queried, unexpected challenges, and things you picked up along the way.

My road to publication started at my wedding reception. One of the guests (friends of my in-laws) approached me after hearing the wedding vows I’d spoken. Apparently impressed with my speech, she asked me if I was a writer. I told her that I wrote emails at my job. She then urged me to write a book. I attributed her generous assessment to her probably having had a couple drinks from the bar. When I later learned that this wedding guest was bestselling author Margaret Stohl, I took the advice a little more seriously and began to write The Perfect Candidate.

As always seems to be the case, finding the right agent was a combination of work and luck. One of the first agents I spoke with was actually more excited about a separate idea, and urged me to write that different story—so I actually wrote an entirely new book, which that agent eventually passed on (this was not fun news to receive!). I later met the team who would represent me (Richard Abate and Rachel Kim at 3 Arts), who agreed that my second manuscript book had some limitations. That’s when I pulled out The Perfect Candidate from my proverbial back pocket. They soon sparked to it, citing a surge of political curiosity and engagement among young adults living in America today. They are awesome creative partners and helped me revise the manuscript so that it was the best version to share with publishers. The wait to hear back from potential editors was just a few weeks, but it felt excruciating—and soon I was on the phone with David Gale who welcomed me into the fold at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. I just got chills writing that sentence—it was surreal and terribly exciting.

Things I picked up:

  1. At the end of the day, the publishing market will decide what works. Getting a book picked up by a publisher is about creative value, but also very much about commercial viability. I thought my second manuscript was going to be my debut, but the market decided otherwise. 
  2. There are no guarantees (just because agent #1 suggested that I explore a different idea doesn’t mean they would represent it). And try not to take agent rejections personally, because it probably means another agent is more of a fit (which was the case when my actual agents saw promise in The Perfect Candidate). 
  3. Invite Margaret Stohl to your wedding.

Are the characters from your book based off anyone you know in real life? How much else of your actual life gets written into your fiction?  

Most of the places and people in The Perfect Candidate are based on my real experiences, though there aren’t any 1:1 inspirations for the characters in the book. I was an intern for two notable government leaders (Congressman Gary Condit and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich), and my interactions with them factor heavily into the characterization of the elected officials in the book. But the descriptions of politicians in the story were also influenced by speeches and TV interviews I’ve seen. Other characters are kind of like “smoothies” of the colorful people in my life—I took elements from each (phrases, fashion, attitude, preferences) and mixed them together to create the various players in the story. My own experience as an intern is probably the strongest influence for Cameron’s character (in addition to restocking the supply closet like Cameron does, I was once had to don an apron and scoop ice cream for a whole office as part of a summer internship!).

Out of all the fantastic books out there, what makes The Perfect Candidate stand out from the rest?

The Perfect Candidate is like House of Cards or Scandal, except from the point of view of the youngest staffers on the political scene. I’ve joked that you could call it “Apartment of Cards.” I’ve seen and read so many exciting stories about Washington from the point of view of adult power brokers and senior leaders—but I’d never read a Capitol Hill thriller from the perspective of someone I could truly relate to. This is Washington, D.C., from the front lines and the lowest ranks—because sometimes the people with the smallest titles end up having the most power.

Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

If you want to write a book, you have to write a book. It sounds silly, but it’s true. You have to write when you are inspired (which is as awesome as it is rare). But more importantly: You have to write when you are tired; when you’d really rather binge a Netflix show all night; when it feels so good to say you’ll write tomorrow instead (it always feels good to say you’ll write tomorrow instead); when a gorgeous Saturday beckons from the outside; when some other mindless project seems more appealing; when you’re feeling an itch in your throat and you’re tempted to postpone because maybe you’re getting sick and you should sleep instead, but deep down you know it’s an excuse; and on and on forever. There will always be something else to do. But you need to nuke those excuses and open a Word file and get. the. words. on. the. page. Final note: prepare for the negative voices in your head to have a full-on protest march in your brain. But that’s when you need to start your own march, because the first person who needs to believe you can write is you.

Now give us your best personal advice—something you wish you had known when you were younger and would offer to your own kids.

The more activities you expose yourself to, the sooner you’ll discover the magical intersection of 1) what you love and 2) what you’re kinda good at. When I was a kid, trying new things sometimes freaked me out. Maybe it was a fear of failure. Maybe it was because the video game Mega Man was more fun. But I resisted the unknown, which probably delayed the own discovery of my own skills and abilities. So: jump in and test the waters. If you hate something, move on. But the thing you’ll love could look just as scary as the thing you’ll hate—you just won’t know it until you give it a try. That thing that freaked you out just might become a lifelong passion or even a career.

Also: wear sunscreen.

Where can you be found on the web?

It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Peter! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Perfect Candidatewoohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
If you could intern at the White House during any time period in American history, which year or presidency would you choose?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Peter and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

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Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Megan Beatie Communications!
Giveaway ends October 17th at 11.59 PM (your time).
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